COPENHAGEN, 17 April 2018 - Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain), Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, today expressed his concern regarding the state of freedom of expression in Poland, following the stripping of immunity from several opposition parliamentarians last week.

On the evening of 12 April the Polish parliament voted to remove from Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz and Ryszard Petru the immunity granted to all parliamentarians.

“Parliamentary immunity is a critical tool to ensure that Members of Parliament can fully exercise freedom of speech necessary to do their work without concern of intimidation or prosecution. Last week’s decision by the Polish parliament appears tailor-made to silence opposition voices from critical comments, and is of great concern,” said Sanchez Amor.

The decision against Ms. Gasiuk-Pihowicz, who is a Member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, reportedly comes in response to comments she made during parliamentary debates last year related to possible prosecution of another Member of Parliament. Mr. Petru’s immunity was reportedly stripped following his reference to two parliamentarians, previously found guilty for abuse of office, as ‘criminals’.

The Chair of the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions called on the Polish parliament to reconsider last week’s decisions related to stripping of parliamentary immunity.

“Parliamentarians not only have a right to freedom of expression, but have a duty of oversight and scrutiny which at times requires that they speak out. As a result, removal of immunity from parliamentarians should only be considered in the most exceptional of cases. The Polish parliament’s decision was not justified and further increases my concerns about the state of rule of law in Poland,” continued Sanchez Amor.

In July 2017 Mr. Sanchez Amor called for the reversal of judiciary reforms that limited the independence of the judiciary in Poland.